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Archive for January 15th, 2008

Marende wins first round of speaker’s election

Posted by African Press International on January 15, 2008

Written By:KBC reporters

Caption: The only woman candidate Njoki Ndungu had 0 votes

The election of the speaker of the National Assembly has moved to the third stage afterall the contestants failed to garner an outright two thirds majority win.

In the first round ODM’s MP elect Kenneth Marende on Tuesday wonafter garnering 103 votes.

His closest rival Francis ole Kaparo had 99 votes while former Kibwezi MP Kalembe Ndile had 2.

The only woman candidate Njoki Ndungu had 0 votes, just like former Nyeri MP Wanyiri Kihoro.

In the second round, Marende managed to get 104 votes to Kaparo’s 102.

Wanyiri Kihoro this time round managed a single vote.

Voting then moved to the third stage which requires a simple majority win.

Marende is being backed by ODM while Kaparo has the backing of PNU and its affiliate parties.

Earlier the inaugural session of the 10th parliament was marred by a protracted showdown between MPs elect on the government side and those from the opposition over the election of the speaker.

However, contrary to their earlier threat the opposition did not sit on the government side, but instead occupied the opposition benches.

The tension that had been building up towards the opening of the 10th parliament spiralled to the floor of the August house as the MPs elect bickered over the method to be used to elect the speaker.

The circus began when some MPs from the opposition side decided to display to their colleagues their preferred choice of speaker immediately the process began.

However the clerk to the National Assembly Samuel Ndindiri insisted that the method to be used in the process should be secret ballot, a proposal supported by the government side.

Emotions soared high as both sides tried to sway the clerk to their side in a game of wits with lawyers from both sides presenting arguments both for and against the method.

The government chief legal advisor Amos Wako had to be called in to clarify the method to be used to elect a speaker.

However even after agreeing on the secret ballot, fresh protests were raised by the government side which claimed the opposition was displaying the name of their preferred candidate with one ODM MP elect taking down the names.

This led to the process starting afresh with the votes that had already been cast being torn up.

Names of MPs elect had to be called one by one as each of them cast their votes individually.

After the tallying Marende emerged the winner with 103 votes compared to Kaparo’s 99.

Security was tight around parliament buildings and the Nairobi Central Business District prior to the opening of parliament Tuesday afternoon.

Regular police and General Servvice Unit personnel manned all roads leading to parliament which were closed to private vehicles.

Members of the public who laze around the precints monitoring the proceedings or trying to meet their MPs were also kept at bay.

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Kenya’s New Speaker of Parliament elected

Posted by African Press International on January 15, 2008

After a fiercely contested elections in parliament to elect a speaker, Kenneth Marende aligned to the ODM got most votes and now becomes Kenya’s Speaker of parliament, a third powerful job in the land after the president and vice president.

Kenyans are hoping that the new speaker will unite the country by not leaning on one side in the house on issues that is og good governance.

The opposition, ODM may want to sway him into makingdecisions that will claim victory for the ODM in matters being debatedin the house.

Such a sway and partysm will not go down well with the government.

Many are already sying that the new speaker may decide to approve a motion ofno confidence directed against the president. Such action will throw the country into more turmoil, causing new elections.

The members of parliament, however, may not want to declare a vote of no confidence on Kibaki, because of such happens ikt is not only the president that will be affected but the entire house and new general elections will have to be called.

The new MPs would like to make money instead of being thrown to a new contest that may see some of them loosing their seats.

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SEMINAR on : China in Africa � irresponsible lender or provider of political freedom?

Posted by African Press International on January 15, 2008

Fellesr�det for Afrika

Welcome by Guro Alm�s, executive director, Norwegian Council for Africa.

Part 1 (13-14): Launch of the report �China in Africa � lending, policy space and governance” published by the Norwegian Campaign for Debt Cancellation (SLUG) and the Norwegian Council for Africa (Fellesr�det for Afrika). The report will be presented by the authors Stephen Muyakwa and Martine Dahle Huse

Part 2 (14-16): Debate
China�s lending to African countries has increased dramatically over the past few years. China has provided African governments with an alternative to traditional donors and made available capital for much needed investments in infrastructure and other development initiatives.

But while the economic policy space may have increased for the borrowers, critical questions of governance arise due to lack of transparency in lending practices and China�s policy of non-interference in other countries� domestic affairs. China has been criticized for neglecting human and labour rights, violating codes of conduct with respect to good governance and transparency and for potentially contributing to a new debt crisis by not paying attention to debt sustainability

�- How does Chinese lending influence governance and democratic processes in African countries?
�- Is China’s lending practices worse than other creditors’?
�- How can we prevent new cases of illegitimate debt?

Helge R�nning, professor University of Oslo
Stephen Muyakwa, co-author of report
Jostein Hole Kobbeltvedt, advisor global economy, Norwegian Church Aid
Chair: Ane Schjolden, The Norwegian Forum for Environment and Development

Dato: Wednesday, January 23, 2007
Tid :�kl 12.30 � 16.00
Sted: Norwegian Church Aid (Kirkens N�dhjelp), Abikaliki Conference room
Bernhard Getz gate 3, Oslo

Lunch will be served from 12.30-13.00

Please register for the event:

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Uganda has highest level of economic freedom, says report

Posted by African Press International on January 15, 2008

Kampala (Uganda) The United States based think tank, Heritage Foundation, has said Uganda has the third highest level of economic freedom in sub-Saharan Africa.

The 14th annual Index of Economic Freedom, released on Monday by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, says in sub-Saharan Africa the overall level of economic freedom declined in the past year. Nine of the 24 countries worldwide rated in the Index as “repressed” can be found in sub-Saharan Africa.

One exception to the overall trend is Mauritius, which continued on the path of reform noted in last years Index, followed by Botswana and Uganda.

According to the report, Ugandas economy is 64.4 percent free, making it the worlds 52nd freest economy.

Uganda scores well in fiscal freedom, government size, financial freedom, and labor freedom. The top income and corporate tax rates are moderate and overall tax revenues are not large as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product, according to the report.

The report said the Uganda government expenditures are fairly low and its small financial sector is dominated by banking, while the labor sector is elastic in work hours and workforce flexibility.

The shortcomings in Ugandas economic freedom stem from corruption, property rights, and business freedom. The report further notes that commercial licensing is burdensome, and regulations are enforced inconsistently.

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Another litmus test as House picks Speaker

Posted by African Press International on January 15, 2008

By Standard TeamThe countryon Tuesdayfaces another litmus test at the ballot and by extension its now increasingly fragile democracy as the doors of the Tenth Parliament open with another high stakes political game electing the House Speaker.

By 2.30pm, 207 MPs-elect are expected to be seated in the Chamber at the main Parliament Buildings in readiness for yet another battle, whose outcome for Party of National Unity (PNU) and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) could have far-reaching political implications.

If the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) gazettes in good time some 12 Nominated MPs, who have already been picked by entitled parties and their names forwarded to Anniversary Towers, the number of combatants could swell to 219.

The nominating parties would, however, not divulge the names of their respective nominees.

This came on a day Safina Party went to court to challenge a controversial decision by Mr Samuel Kivuitu, the ECK chairman, to bar the party from picking its designated single nominee. There were also unconfirmed reports of parallel nominees lists from ODM and ODM-Kenya finding their way to Anniversary Towers.

But three MPs will still miss out in action after ECK nullified, citing irregularities, the parliamentary election outcome of three constituencies Kamukunji, Kilgoris and Wajir West.

In preparation for a fight that will again be determined by numbers, both PNU and ODM went into retreats and onto the drawing board to plot how to garner the winning numbers.

The voting is expected to be another closely contested affair, perhaps even “too close to call”, as pollsters variously described the now fiercely contested presidential vote outcome between President Kibaki (PNU) and Mr Raila Odinga (ODM), whose announcement promptly plunged the country into a crisis of an unprecedented scale.

It is within this politically polarised background that MPs converge today to transact business.

A win for PNU today would in more ways than one help consolidate and further entrench the ruling party. But more importantly, it would crystallise PNUs resolve to have Kibaki see through his controversial second and last term.

Even though it has the numbers, a loss for ODM on the other hand, given the significance of the position of Speaker, could jeopardise the partys plan to make Parliament the next battle ground.

PNU restated on Monday that it will today front Mr Francis Xavier Ole Kaparo, who boasts immense experience having served three five-year consecutive terms as the Speaker of the National Assembly. Kaparo was first elected to the seat in 1993, making history as the first Speaker after the re-introduction of multi-party politics in 1992.

The Orange party, on the other hand, is fielding Mr Kenneth Marende, a banker-turned-advocate and a vocal member of the Ninth Parliament. He served as a member of the vibrant Parliamentary Committee on Administration of Justice and Legal Affairs, which played a key role in the legislative agenda by sponsoring crucial amendments, and Standing Orders Committee, constituted to review archaic House rules.

Both parties have an uphill task of garnering a simple majority of 138 MPs-elect assuming the nominated lot will not be available for business today to clinch the Speakership.

Even though ODM and its ally, Narc, start off with a combined 102 MPs-elect, the Orange party and its chief affiliate will still have to engage in extensive deep sea fishing from other fringe parties to tilt the scale in its favour.

PNU and ODM-K through Mbooni MP-elect, Mr Mutula Kilonzo, upped the psychological warfare against the opponents with the declaration: “We are the majority in the House. Let ODM read the mood in the country.”

Mutula a renowned city lawyer spoke in Naivasha at a PNU/ODM-K retreat attended by 98 MPs. The Small Parties Parliamentary Group (SPPG), some of whose members have gravitated towards the PNU/ODM-K axis, was represented by an undisclosed number of MPs-elect from Safina, CCU, Kenda, Ford-P, New Ford-K, Sisi Kwa Sisi and Ford-Kenya.

The PNU/ODM-K axis is backing the erstwhile reformer and Imenti Central MP-elect, Mr Gitobu Imanyara, for the position of Deputy Speaker.

Former Nominated MP, Ms Njoki Ndungu, who had also shown interest in the post of Speaker a first from a woman in Kenya didnt turn up in Naivasha even though she had been invited.

In a subtle admission that the task ahead was tricky, Mutula, who co-chaired the Naivasha meeting with Vice-President Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, said: “Though the issue has been very complicated, the talks have proceeded extremely well”.

He added: “We have struck a deal whereby we (PNU/ODM-K) will produce the House Speaker, while the SPPG will produce the Deputy Speaker”.

In Karen, Nairobi, where ODM, its affiliate party Narc and PDP had retreated to, up to 106 MPs turned up.

“The battle will today shift to the House after they rigged us out. We are determined to ensure that Kenyans get what they deserve and that is justice attained during the polling,” Pentagon member and Eldoret North MP-elect, Mr William Ruto, said.

The party leader, Raila Odinga, chaired the sessions at the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Training Institute.

Pentagon member, Mrs Charity Ngilu, said of the party candidate: “We have confidence in Marende as the new Speaker. We will vote for him in total as ODM and our affiliates”.

ODM is understood to have brought on board three more small parties by last night. But like PNU, the party refused to discuss details.

ODM confirmed it had presented a list of its six nominees, but would not divulge details.

The ODM MPs-elect were to reportedly spend the night at the Karen facility to fine-tune their act ahead of todays showdown.

On Monday night, a circular from the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr Samuel Ndindiri, instructed new members to arrive in the main Parliament Buildings and be seated in the chamber by 2.30pm.

The dispatch advised members to use the Ministers entrance on Harambee Avenue, opposite County Hall.

To avoid confusion, Ndindiri advised the new members, because they are not known to parliamentary staff, to carry along their certificates of election from the ECK and their national Identity cards or passports for verification.

The only business on the Parliamentary Order Paper today will be to pick the holder of the coveted seat of the National Assembly Speaker and his/her deputy.

The next business will be the swearing-in of MPs by the new Speaker.

Unlike when members vote in the Chamber through acclamation, the election of the Speaker is conducted through secret ballot.

Interestingly, this will be the first time that President Kibaki will come face-to-face with Raila.

Because he has not been sworn-in as MP and will not be performing a State function, the President will be required to occupy the seat of the Leader of Government Business on the right hand side of the Speaker.

This means that even his aide-de-camp will be left at the door and will not be inside the Chambers.

The Clerk will conduct the proceedings up to the point a new Speaker is elected and takes over.

Reports by Alex Kiprotich, Ben Agina, Martin Mutua, Ayub Savula and Antony Gitonga

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Chaos still high in the agenda: EU could cut aid to Kenya – senior official

Posted by African Press International on January 15, 2008

Story by REUTERS
The European Union could cut its aid to Kenya over concerns about disputed elections, the EU’s top aid official said yesterday.

Orange Democratic Movements Raila Odinga talks to journalists during his party’s retreat in Nairobi yesterday. Photo/ZACHARIA CHILISWA

Another EU official said the 27-nation bloc was considering suspending all aid and imposing sanctions if mediation efforts to resolve the crisis failed.

“It’s difficult to continue the same level of budgetary support if we see that the election has not been fully respected,” EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel told a meeting of the European Parliament’s development committee.

The crisis has dented Kenya’s democratic credentials and rattled Western donors. Post-election turmoil, in which hundreds have been killed, has hit the country’s economy as well as supplies to east and central African neighbours.

“We are not in a situation we can call business as usual by any means,” Michel said. “We have to adapt our relations.”

The EU provided 290 million euros ($431.1 million) in aid to Kenya between 2002 and 2007. A further 383 million euros are planned for 2008-2013.

Leading a group of “Eminent Africans”, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan was due in the east African nation later today to try to kick-start dialogue between President Kibaki and his rival Raila Odinga, who have not met since the disputed December 27 election.

The second EU official said that if Annan’s mediation failed the European Union would consider tougher steps.

“We are working on an options paper, all the possible scenarios are on the table, including the possibility of suspending aid and of taking sanctions,” said the official, who requested anonymity.

EU ambassadors would work on these options on Tuesday, the official said.

The EU and the United States have urged Kenya’s rival political parties to work to form a government. Michel said he had been unable to reach Kibaki for talks.

“I have attempted to contact him in vain for days on end. I get to his front office but am never transferred to the president – either the line goes dead or he does not pick up the phone,” he told the lawmakers.

Michel said Kenya was vital for regional stability and its crisis had implications for countries such as Uganda and Rwanda.

Kenya’s ambassador to Belgium, Marx Kahende, told the same meeting that a negotiated solution was possible.

“We remain optimistic that ongoing efforts, including the engagement by Kofi Annan … will yield an acceptable solution to all parties,” Kahende said. “Democracy can’t be built in a void … Maybe NATO forces are required, I don’t know,” he said.

EU observers reiterated concerns over the election. “The accuracy of the result is in doubt,” said Liberal lawmaker Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, who was the European Parliament’s chief observer at the Kenyan election.

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Posted by African Press International on January 15, 2008

odera-omolo.jpgBy Leo Odera Omolo, Kisumu – Kenya
Both Catholic and the Anglican churches in Nyanza region have joined their fellow clerics in other Provinces in wholesale condemnation of the recently concluded, but much flawed Presidential election results.
THE Catholic Archbishop of Kisumu Diocese, the Most rev Zaccheous Okoth ,Bishop Francis Mwai Abiero of the Anglican Diocese of Maseno South and the chairman of the Ncck, Nyanza issue a strongly worded press statement in Kisumu, Saying that for the sake of justice, fairness and credibility, and in order to respect the tenets of democracy in Kenya and jealously guard the country’s young democracy, there should be a re-run of presidential elections.
Their joint statement was copied to the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs DR Jandayi Prazer, the US Ambassador to Kenya Michael Renneberger and the C.R.S Country Representative Ken MacLean stated that on December 27th 2007, the Kenya people voted peacefully.However, in the wake of the announcement of the flawed results of the presidential election, spontaneous violence erupted in various parts of the country from Mombasa to Busia, Mandera to Isebania owing to the following;-
1} The people of Kenyas eight Provinces of the country reacted angrily because they felt that their democratic rights and entire concept of democracy were being eroded with impunity. Through their ballot, the people of Kenya spoke loudly and clearly that they wanted change.
2) The admission of the ECK CHAIRMAN Samuel Kivuitu that he was under pressure and was not even sure whether Hon Mwai Kibaki was elected President did not help any matters, but only heightened tension in the country.
3} The press conference of the four ECK commissioners to the effect that there were massive irregularities regarding the presidential votes from Central and Eastern Provinces corroborated the suspicion of Kenyan people that the wrong candidate was sworn in illegally as the president of Kenya.
4} The matter has created a constitutional crisis in the country and it is this that led to the spontaneous political violence which the country has witnessed because the people of Kenya voted for change which was supposed to usher in a new constitution which the Kenya people have always yearned for as already shown in the Referendum voting of 2005.
5}In this context, the three Bishops said, the church is now called upon to play her prophetic role without any partiality because, as the founding father of this nation once told the Bishops of Amecea Region in 1978 In matter affecting our people, the church must be the conscience of society. In this political crisis therefore, the church is hereby called upon as non-partisan arbiter to the conscience of Kenyan society And clearly articulate what the Kenya people aspire and want without fear or favor
The Bishops went on the current violence that faces the country should not be reduced to ethnicity, and in particular, against the two most populous tribes, the Luos and Kikuyus. The two communities and the rest of the other 41 tribes have hitherto lived peacefully, exercising their democratic rights to vote every five years since 1963 when the countryu became independent. The democracy that the country has enjoyed so far has been built over periopd of time. Abraham Lincoln of America once described democracy;-
A government of the people by the people and for the people
The Kenyan people chose heir government on the27th December 2007, thereby determining how and wh0im they want to be governed…
The clerics say, it was obvious the Kenyan wanted a change in the government which they had mandated in 2003 to rule them. their decision must be respected if democracy is to be upheld.
The Bishops said the current President is sitting at the State House in his position illegally and the supposed swearing in which occurred in a hurry and in secret is therefore null and void abinito {from the start}.
A re-run of the presidential election, the Bishops said will be too expensive for the country and in particular the electorate with the voting places and so no need for a repeat. The problem lays in the doctored election results and subsequent illegal swearing in of the incumbent, they added.
The Bishops went on President Kibaki has no moral authority whatsoever to govern the country both in terms of democracy and constitutionally, for the right to vote is a constituitional provision. The way forward therefore is to restore democracy and confidence of the electorate in future electoral process, failure to do that; the subsequent elections will not be safe from blatant rigging as has been witnessed recently.
The clerics said the incumbent must step aside, respect and allow the democratic will and choice of the people {electorate} to prevail. To do otherwise is to rule by dictatorship since he has no legal or moral mandate of the electorate to govern them.
The Bishops added, finally, in case the above mentioned is still feasible then we believe that in order to solve the political impasse, the people of Kenya feel that for the sake of justice, fairness and credibility and in order to respect the tenets of democracy in our country and jealously guard our young democracy, there should bead re-run of the presidential elections.
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